Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Quick Hits: covering up nudes, Italy's pro-family resistance, the tragic assassination of Diem

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 29, 2016 | In Quick Hits

  • The prudish draping of nude statues at the Capitoline Museum, in preparation for the visit by Iranian President Rouhani, neatly captures the story of Europe’s decline. The curators of a great cultural treasury are ready to apologize for their heritage, to eliminate any aspects that might offend an outsider. Moreover, they are frightened by Islam, because they know that Muslim leaders—unlike their secularized European counterparts—will not hesitate to lash out against what they dislike. To understand fully the significance of the veiled statues, think how likely it is that a museum would place a drape over, say, the Piss Christ, to avoid offending Christians.

  • Still, maybe not all is lost in Europe. In Italy this weekend there will be massive public demonstrations against a bid for legal recognition of same-sex unions. While Americans have quietly accepted same-sex marriage, Italians are balking at the milder prospect of registered civil unions. And in the Italian debate, even the proponents of civil unions are quick to assure the world that the legislation would not allow for adoption by same-sex couples: a prospect that the Italian people find repugnant. Different societies have different “hot buttons,” it seems. The pro-life movement has never generated the same energy in Europe that it shows in the US. But the American people have not shown anywhere near the resistance that the Italians—and before them, the French—have mounted against acceptance of homosexual partnerships. Why? That might be the topic for an interesting doctoral dissertation.

  • At first glance you might wonder why Ignatius Press, which publishes so many fine works on Catholic topics, has now put out a book about the Vietnam War: specifically, about the assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem. But if you dip into that book-- The Lost Mandate of Heaven, by Geoffrey Shaw—you’ll soon understand. America’s first Catholic president approved the killing of a staunch Catholic ally. But Diem’s intense Catholic faith was, in fact, part of the reason for his downfall; the State Department viewed his faith with deep suspicion. Assembling overwhelming evidence, Shaw demonstrates that the CIA orchestrated the killing of the Vietnamese leader because he did not fit into America’s plans for remodeling Vietnamese society. Diem (and Ho Chi Minh) understood Americans, but US policy-makers made no real effort to understand the Vietnamese. It was the arrogance of social engineers that prompted the assassination. And the results of the assassination, Shaw argues, prolonged the war and destroyed the nation. In an interview with Catholic World Report, Shaw explains the broader historical lesson to be learned from this sad episode:
    Related directly to this is the fact that U.S. foreign policy, in the post-1945 era in general and post-1963 Vietnam in specific, has careened from disaster to disaster because its very foundations have been built on an erroneous view of the world that has emanated from activist liberal humanists within the U.S. Department of State.


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Jan. 29, 2016 7:01 PM ET USA

    I am currently reading Geoffery Shaw's book, "The Lost Mandate of Heaven," and it is very well written and interesting. Americans are so ignorant of all the diabolical things that our CIA and State Department have been doing for many, many decades. There is a reason why the rest of the world hates our guts.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Jan. 29, 2016 6:05 PM ET USA

    Thanks for the heads up on "The Lost Mandate". Putting it on my reading list. Sounds like it has lessons for the current world situation.

  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Jan. 29, 2016 5:38 PM ET USA

    About the nudes, a friend commented in an e-mail: "That's one small step for a Moslem, and one giant leap for Islam."